By Adil Salahi
Whenever Juwayriyyah (may Allah be pleased with her) is mentioned as one of Prophet Muhammad’s wives, the blessings she brought to her own people are often highlighted. It is universally agreed by Muslim historians that no woman brought her own people greater blessings. Juwayriyyah was taken captive by the Muslim army, along with many of her people. When she came to Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) seeking his help in securing the price she agreed with her master to buy her own freedom, the Prophet offered her to pay that price himself, and that he would marry her. She agreed, feeling that the offer would transform her own fortunes. She little thought of the wider effect of her acceptance to marry the Prophet.
As indicated above, scores of her tribesmen and women fell captive following a war they had waged against the Prophet and his Companions. According to the universally applied norms at the time, these people became slaves unless they managed to pay their own ransom. They were actually taken into Muslims’ homes to begin the life of slavery. However, when Juwayriyyah became the Prophet’s wife, all Muslims who took captives from her tribe, Al-Mustalaq, simply freed them. They said, “These people are now the Prophet’s in-laws. How can they remain our slaves?” Thus, more than a hundred families of her own people were set free, without being charged a ransom or having to pay anything for their freedom.
Taken aback, the man said, “I declare that you are truly the Messenger of Allah, for none saw what I did other than Allah.” We need to realize that this situation, though spontaneous, was not beyond the expectation of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). He was fully aware that his Companions would find it hard to keep his in-laws as slaves. He himself hated slavery, but he could not eradicate it by decree, since it was practiced throughout the world. He, however, was keen to reduce its chances. Hence, this marriage was proposed in the hope that it would bring about the desired result: ending the slavery of yesterday’s enemies and softening many of their hearts to Islam.
A Sign of Truth
In the meantime, an ironical situation arose. Juwayriyyah’s father was keen on getting her released. To this end, he drove a number of camels and went to Madinah. As he approached, he looked again at the camels and admired two of them. He thought he would better keep those. Therefore, he hid them in a place of security and continued to Madinah. As he was traveling alone, he felt that the two camels would be safe in their place of hiding, and that no one would know about what he had done. He went to Madinah and addressed the Prophet, saying “Muhammad! You have taken my daughter captive. She is not the sort of person to be made a slave. Therefore, I have brought these camels as her ransom.” In response, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “How about those two camels you have hidden in such and such place?” Taken aback, the man said, “I declare that you are truly the Messenger of Allah, for none saw what I did other than Allah.”
The Prophet gave Juwayriyyah a dowry of 400 dirhams — the silver currency at the time. She lived with him for the rest of his blessed life, i.e., a little more than five years. She died during the reign of Mu`awiyah (may Allah be pleased with him), but reports of the year of her death vary, suggesting that she lived until she was 65 or 70. She lived a life of complete piety and devotedness. She reported a number of hadiths that are related in the most authentic anthologies of the Prophet’s traditions. Her life after she had married the Prophet was largely uneventful. She certainly did not participate in the troublesome events that gripped the Muslim community for several years toward the end of the reign of `Uthman and then during the four years of `Ali’s reign (May Allah be pleased with both of them).